Trump Media Agency Chief Blocked in Court Over Mass Firings

The federal appeals court in Washington blocked the new chief executive of the U.S. government’s global media agency from firing the staff and governing board of an internet freedom nonprofit.

Last month, Michael Pack, the chief of the U.S. Agency for Global Media, conducted a mass firing, dismissing the heads of four news outlets, including Radio Free Europe, as well as staff and governing board members at the Open Technology Fund, which promotes internet freedom worldwide under the agency’s purview.

The agency also oversees Voice of America. That outlet’s director Amanda Bennett and deputy director Sandy Sugawara both resigned last month following the confirmation of Pack, a conservative documentary filmmaker who has worked with former Trump strategist Steve Bannon.

The day before she resigned, Bennett issued a statement criticizing the administration for instructing the Centers for Disease Control to refuse VOA interview requests because it had run an Associated Press article on the coronavirus pandemic that the White House called “Chinese propaganda.”

The appeals court on Tuesday issued an injunction blocking the dismissals at the Open Technology Fund as it determines whether the firing was lawful.

“The officers and directors of OTF that were in those roles prior to the government’s actions shall continue in their normal course throughout the pendency of this appeal,” the court said.

©2020 Bloomberg L.P.

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